In today’s episode of the Brand Strategy Podcast, I’m joined by SEO expert Meg Casebolt to talk about breaking up with social media without negatively impacting your quantity or quality of client leads! In this no-holds-barred conversation, Meg shares how her relationship with social media shaped her, her business strategy, and how to reduce your dependency on social media to recoup time and peace of mind. And she’s also sharing that you can run 6 (and even 7-figure businesses!) with limited social media efforts, or even cutting it out entirely.
As an entrepreneur and a mother, Meg always struggled with the concept of social media. She was told that it was absolutely essential for her business success and that she needed to keep up with it even at the cost of spending less time with her kids or family, but when situations like her father being ill, maternity leave and getting COVID, took her out of work and her regular posting schedule, she saw that wasn’t the case at all.
Meg decided to cut back her social media dependency that took so much time out of her schedule, with the goal of going social media free in 2023. She’s still able to run a successful digital marketing agency and online membership in 25 hours a week, while balancing family & figuring out her ADHD brain.
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My recent interview on the Social Slowdown Podcast about relationship-based lead generation
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Hi, friend, and welcome to the Brand Strategy Podcast, a show created to equip you with the inspiration, encouragement, and clarity you need to build a brand of your dreams. I’m your host, Bonnie Bakhtiari, brand designer, strategist, and founder of the Illume Retreat from sustainable Strategy to heartfelt Encouragement. Each episode is designed to equip you with the tools you need to chase after your dreams because you deserve a brand that empowers you to do what you love, connects with your dream clients, and offers a deep sense of fulfillment along the way. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on this journey, won’t you
Friends, Welcome back to the Brand Strategy Podcast for today. We are talking about breaking up with social media, with the incredible Meg Casebolt. And I’m really excited for today’s conversation because this is something that I just continually see popping up in the online space, this conversation around social media. Do we wanna keep using this as a long-term lead generation strategy for our businesses? Is it serving us in terms of our time, our energy, and our creativity? And as always, with today’s conversation, the intention is to introduce you to this idea of what it can look like. And one incredible entrepreneur’s experience with taking some thoughtful steps away from social media and redefining her relationship with it through her business. But as always, all of this is meant to encourage you to show you what’s possible, and any actions that you end up taking are always up to you.
So I encourage you to tune in today, kind of using that self-awareness to decide if this is something that aligns, if this speaks to you, or if this is something that, um, maybe isn’t quite the direction you wanna pursue. I know we’re still gonna be dropping some great gems in today’s episode. So with that being said, let me introduce you to exactly who Meg is. She’s the founder of Love at First Search and the host of the Social Slowdown podcast. She loves to help businesses spend less time trying to hack the algorithms, and instead creates SEO content that attracts your I, uh, your ideal audience to your website while helping entrepreneurs cut their dependency on social media for their business visibility. Meg, thanks so much for joining me. I’m really excited to get to have today’s conversation with you and let’s just dive on in. Sounds
Great. Thank you so much for having me. This is such a fun conversation to have, especially, you know, you really put an emphasis here on making it work for you. Not necessarily like needing to gold cold Turkey because somebody told you to, but I’m a big fan of like, evaluating your relationship with every marketing strategy that you’re using, whether that’s social media or email marketing or collaborative or content marketing. Like how do you, how are you making sure that your marketing is working for you and not just defaulting to what is the most kind of obvious, larger than life opportunity out there?
Mm, absolutely. And something that actually we started to kind of get into before we even started the recording is this idea of, of checking in with how your marketing aligns with your values. And are you showing up in ways that feel good? And are you showing up in ways that are bringing you joy and that feel in alignment with your values? And I know that’s something that we’ll get into a little bit more, but before we do, I don’t wanna get too ahead of myself. Um, I wonder if you shared a little bit more about who you are and this business that you’ve built.
Sure. So, uh, my name’s Meg and I run Love It. First Search, which is an SEO agency. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Um, I started this business eight years ago, um, oh gosh, no, nine years ago because my son is now eight, um, . So time really applies. I was in the, the situation that I find a lot of women, especially in which is be kind of becoming a reluctant entrepreneur. I had a corporate job, I was working as a marketing manager in a small business, and, uh, got married, got pregnant, looked at the numbers and realized that like it didn’t actually make financial sense to continue working in my job and put my kid in daycare because like daycare would’ve eaten up most of my income. Mm-hmm. . Um, it’s just like the harsh reality of . Okay, this is, now, now I’m getting out a little soapbox.
That’s the harsh reality of late capitalism and patriarchy and, you know, all of these systems that we have in place. And so I started freelancing as a, a designer, as a web designer. Um, I started building websites. It’s something that I’d done in my career as a marketing director. Um, and working in nonprofits, I built tons of websites kind of just for fun, for leisure, um, cuz I’m a total nerd . And, um, I started building them for other women entrepreneurs and they would go through the whole branding process with me and we’d come up with their messaging and we’d build the whole website and then we’d launch them and be so excited. And it would just be crickets, you know, there wouldn’t be anybody new finding them and, and they would be thrilled with the brand, but then say like, but how , how are people supposed to find me?
Like, why did I spend all this money on a website if nobody’s finding it? Mm-hmm. . Um, and so that’s when I started really looking heavily into search engine optimization is a way to make sure that the websites that I was building would be lead generation tools for my clients to make sure that when we were going through this process, we were not just, uh, building something that felt like it was in a vacuum, but we were responding to the needs that people were going to Google for. So that’s sort of where my start was, um, is just wanting to hel help my clients get better outcomes with their websites and sort of stumbling into search engine optimization as the tool for doing that.
I love how you found your way to seo because I think that, well, that’s something that I can relate to in the sense of wanting to serve your clients well, wanting to figure out what are the solutions that I can introduce them to that are really going to serve their business goals for the long term. That often takes us to all these different little avenues or these specific niches. And it’s fascinating to hear how that journey looks for different people, and especially in the design community, um, seeing the way that designers, web developers, brand strategists, the way that they can create that kind of, that niche, that sort of secret sauce that really enables them to serve their clients well as such a fascinating journey. Yeah, and I feel like, you know, correct me if I’m wrong here, but what I’m hearing is that s e o for your clients is this way to draw their ideal clients to their website and use their website as this massively generation tool that’s, you know, doing that heavy lifting for them. And I think that in my experience, that’s what a lot of entrepreneurs use social media to do. And I can already see how leveraging your website that way instead would be incredibly beneficial since that’s something that you actually own versus
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And I think also, you know, when we are using social media for lead generation, um, some of those channels, some of the social media platforms are better than others for discovery purposes. You know, if we’re thinking about kind of older social media being on Facebook, like there are ways that you can be found in Facebook, but for the most part it is a way to connect with people that you already know. You know, like it may have some recommended groups that you could join, but for the most part, Facebook is a place for nurturing relationships. Instagram’s a little bit better, sometimes it will share, you know, here are some related, uh, videos you may wanna watch or you can get tagged in different things. Um, and then there are some channels that are a little bit more discovery centric. Like TikTok algorithm is incredible, right?
So if you wanna be discovered, you may want to be on multiples of these channels because some of them are a better tool for new people finding you for that lead gen. And some is a better or some are a better place for conversion for saying, you know, here’s how we can build a relationship together. And then when people are ready to buy, they can come find you. But that pipeline can take a while because people might find you on the platform but not be ready to work with you yet not be ready for what it is that you’re doing. So you can have people who follow you on Instagram or Twitter for years and years and years and either wait years to buy from you or never buy from you, and you are just a source of entertainment on a platform that is meant for entertainment.
Aside from LinkedIn, most of these tools are entertainment platforms that business owners are using for lead generation platforms, but it’s not what their intended purpose is. It’s not what the mi the mission of Facebook or Instagram is not to help you get more leads, it’s to create a space online where people want to hang out. And you might be showing up in those algorithms right? Between, you know, cat videos and political rants. And that’s not always the ripest ground for starting a conversation that can lead to a conversion that can lead to a sale. So that was always one of my biggest issues with social media is I’m trying to have a, a serious conversation in a playground , you know, and there’s nothing wrong with the playground. It’s a lot of fun to be on the playground, but it’s not always the best place to talk about sales.
Mm. That’s a powerful point. So as you started to have that realization, what was that process like for you? How did you start to kind of make that decision to redefine your relationship with social media and start kind of moving away from it as a big lead generation tool for your business?
One of the things that I’ve always, uh, embraced is understanding your marketing data. And sometimes this is as simple as, you know, Google Analytics is a free tool you can install on your website and you can go in and see what channels, whether those are social media channels or other marketing channels are actually leading towards people coming to your website or actually leading towards your sales mechanisms, right? If you have a way that people can buy from you, whether it’s on social or on your website, you should be able to know where they’re finding you, how they’re, how they’re acquiring your information. Um, and so I’ve always kind of noticed that as a way of evaluating what’s working. But then from a personal perspective, I didn’t, when I first started sort of detaching myself from social media, it was not a business choice. It was a personal choice.
It was me going through some things in my life. You know, having a terminally ill parent, to be honest, is what really . It was like, I don’t wanna get onto these platforms and feel like I had to show up and perform for people between chemotherapy visits, right? Like right. I didn’t, I couldn’t bring myself to force the happy that I needed to force in order to show up in that space. Um, and that was six years ago. You know, things have changed since then. But when I was going through that personal crisis and then, you know, lost my dad and at the end of the summer I went and I looked at the numbers and even though I had barely been on social media at all, it didn’t actually impact my sales. My sales were coming from my relationships and coming from my website, so, excuse me. So, um, it wasn’t when I was actually able to go have that accidental revelation of social media might be a fun place to hang out. It’s a great place to get to know people, but it’s not actually making me money directly.
Right. Right. Um, that’s such a beautiful example of how that information, that data can drive the actions that you’re taking in your business. And, um, in my own experience, I have been constantly focusing on how I can be making more data backed decisions and knowing your numbers and knowing where your clients are finding you. I’ve known for years that social media is no longer the number one, um, referral source for my custom branding and design clients. And so knowing that then empowers me to choose and have a lot more flexibility about, do I wanna show up on Instagram? Is this something that I, you know, wanna be creating content for? Is there a better use of that time or that energy that would better serve my business and better serve honestly the revenue that I can generate? And I think that when we frame it with that information and when we understand what the data actually looks like, it can either point us in a direction that can better serve our time and energy, or it can give us the permission to maybe make some changes that better align with our values. Um, so with that being said, as you started to kind of focus on, alright, I know that social media isn’t this massive source of, of revenue for my business, um, did that change the amount of like energy or freedom or time that you were able to all of a sudden kind of free up once you understood that, wow, I don’t actually have to show up and kind of, you know, come across a certain way on this platform anymore? ,
I wish that it had been all of a sudden revelation of like, this is the change that I need to make. But for me it was very much, um, like a slow remove, like a revelation that just because I’m not on these platforms doesn’t mean I can’t hold those relationships For a long time, I was afraid of, I mean, it’s the fear of missing out. It’s the fear of being forgotten because I’m not on the platforms where people have come to expect me to be. Um, there’s a bit of like a sunk cost in this where I have a Facebook group with a couple thousand people and I have a couple thousand people following me on Instagram. It wasn’t huge, but I felt like I had spent this time developing this audience on these platforms and to walk away was scary. Um, and it’s not something that we’ve fully even walked away from. It’s something where we are minimizing and we are becoming less dependent on it, and we are really trying to make sure that the time that we’re investing on platforms, I think the only one that we’re still on right now are, are LinkedIn and Instagram. We just didn’t see any return on investment from Facebook. Um, and I, I can’t bring myself to be on LinkedIn because I have ADHD and, or I’m sorry, I’m not LinkedIn on TikTok , if I start TikTok, like there goes my whole day
Oh my gosh. Like just this spiral that would happen there.
Yeah. And, and I’d recognize my own like addictive nature and, and how hard it is for me to find the focus and like I’m medicated and still if I open up TikTok it, it’s really, really hard for me to shut it down. And I need to just remove the obstacle of that from my brain and like find things that feel less overstimulating. Mm-hmm. find things that feel like a better use of my time. You know, if I had, or if my team and I had infinite time to spend on our marketing, sure. We’d be on all the channels, we’d be on all the places we’d create for all the things, right? We’d be constantly creating and feeding into this process of, you know, put it on TikTok and then put it on YouTube shorts and then build it into Instagram reels and like doing all the things across all the places. Um, but we don’t have infinite time. And if I have the choice of, you know, going and creating these tos that I can under, under a purpose and, and building all these things, and then needing to do it again the next day and the next day and the next day, or if I can make the choice to, you know, record a YouTube video or a podcast that can, that can be turned to a blog post that can be found for the next 10 years.
My choice is the longer term strategy. Or I mean, my real choice is neither of them and I go read a romance novel, but , you know, what, what are the things we can do when we’re not marketing? What are the, the, the trade offs that we can make? If we can spend less time on this, what is the thing that I could be doing instead? Even if it’s just taking my dog for a long walk, like that’s a time when I don’t have to sit at my desk. And that’s a trade off that a lot of people think like, well, I’m supposed to work this amount of hours and therefore I’ll do marketing for this amount of time. But for me, it doesn’t have to be, you know, you’re, you need to spend this amount of time doing it. If you can spend less time and still get the same results, then what opportunities do you have that you can do something that maybe you enjoy better than creating another Instagram reel ?
Absolutely. Um, I noticed over the years that I’ve been on social media and that I’ve used it as this kind of, you know, pretty time intensive like, you know, lead gen platform for my business, um, I started to really notice just kind of the toll that that was taking on me in terms of, um, the way that I felt when I was on Instagram Yeah. Specifically, and the, just the way that my emotions would kind of fluctuate when I was engaging with, you know, the content that was in my feed, the people that I follow. And to be clear, like I follow almost exclusively my industry friends clients. Like, I’m not following like these really like, you know, sensational like, you know, kinds of accounts or anything like that. But, um, just knowing the way that algorithms are designed to capitalize on your attention, to capitalize on your emotions, to make you constantly, right. Like, let’s be honest, Instagram algorithms, you know, TikTok algorithms, social media algorithms don’t necessarily care that you are in this like, state of constant emotional regulation where like, you are calm and you are just like feeling relaxed, right? No. They want you to be excited or outraged or, you know, they want you to be kind of caught into it so that you keep scrolling, you keep engaging, they can serve you more ad content and they can monetize your time in that way.
Absolutely. They, they are built to hijack our emotions Yes. And to feed our brains dopamine by giving us constant stimulation. And it feels really good in our brains to have that stimulus coming into it. And, and like the things that are the most stimulating are the ones that are getting shared the most often are the ones that are getting recommended the most often. Like that is the extreme of these platforms. This is why they are built to be addictive to our brain chemistry. Like they’ve done the research to make these as addictive as they can. Um, and if, if we’re not intentional about our relationships and our choices about when to log in, how long to stay, how to engage with people, it can be really easy to just fall into that doom scroll. And I’m not trying to say that in a way that sounds critical to anybody who’s been there because like, yes, I have spent many nights just randomly scrolling and eating popcorn and drinking red wine and watching creek like it is. Yes,
I am that person.
All of the above, right? Like, it’s really easy to use social media as a numbing agent, as a way to sort of tune out from everything happening, especially at the end of a long day when you just need to like mm-hmm. , let your brain go somewhere else. I feel that entirely. I’m not trying to be critical or shaming about it. It is a behavior that is very common in our society for a very good reason because our brains need that time off.
Absolutely. Um, something that actually my therapist, uh, shared with me is kind of a, a little check-in tool that I can use when, you know, of course I went to her and I was like, you know, I think I’m addicted to social media. What do I do? Um, and,
And I’m sure it was not the first time she’d heard that. Like, I bet, my gosh, she knows about it all the time. My gosh, ,
No. She was like, oh, honey, settled out and I’ve got this loaded. Um, but this, this kind of tool that she shared with me is, you know, I I I was talking about kind of my main frustration with it is, um, how much time, if I’m not, if I’m not careful with my time, how much time I can lose on these platforms. And also, um, how I feel like I don’t walk away feeling like uplifted and like, just completely like calm and peaceful and you know, like I feel agitated. I like, you know, I’ll, I’ll take a break from my doom scrolling to like, you know, talk to my husband about can you believe that this thing happened? And he’s like, I could not, and he’s not on social media. And so he’s like, no, I can’t believe because I’ve never heard of this .
And he’s like, not suffering for it. Um, but this, this kind of, um, framework that has been helpful for me is asking myself, checking in when I’m tempted to pick up the phone, when I’m tempted to, um, you know, spend a little more time than I really want to on a platform that makes me feel this way. Ask myself, how is this supporting my nervous system? Hmm. How does this support my energy? And if I’m being really honest with myself since I started asking myself this question, I’m like, it doesn’t, it doesn’t support my nervous system. It doesn’t support my energy. It doesn’t make me feel happier, healthier, more clear, more calm, more motivated. It makes me feel more anxious, more stressed out. And, um, that’s not how I wanna feel right now. You know? And so little by little I’m starting to retrain my brain to, you know, reach for other things when I want that.
I want that, you know, kind of opportunity to sort of like check out. Um, and so with that being said, it’s tough, right? Because social media, like we’re, it’s kind of the lines get blended a little bit cuz we’re business owners and we’re talking about how to use this tool to generate revenue for our businesses, but then also it’s a tool that’s so attractively designed that it capitalizes on our attention and our time as people. And so we’ve got like our personal use of it, but then also our business use of it. And so when we start to think about, all right, I don’t actually love how much time I’m spending on social media or how it’s making me feel and I’m not really seeing a lot of return on the investment of my time and energy here. What are some things we can do instead that will be good uses of time and energy and will actually bring those leads our way so that we can keep running these businesses that we’ve built?
Yes. I love this question because like, like your husband, my husband is, has been off social media for like five years and I remember how jealous I felt when he told me that he shut down his Facebook account and now like his cousins will hit me up on Facebook cuz he is not on there. And I’m like, great more emotional labor of being the woman in this heterosexual relationship.
Right? But as business owners, it’s much harder for us to decouple not just our personal relationships that we have on social, but also the expectations of showing up for the ways that people are tagging us or the the times that we want to show up and contribute to a conversation that’s already happening. You know, there’s, there’s a ripe audience sitting there and the idea of walking away from that, even if like none of them are gonna buy from us, it’s, it’s terrifying to think I’m gonna shoot my business in the foot because I don’t feel good about this. Like, it feels, um, it, it feels very difficult to make that decision. Like you’re, you’re putting yourself at a negative in, you know, that, that you’re, you’re negatively impacting your decisions here. Mm-hmm. . Um, and I think a lot of the commentary that I’ve read, cuz I’ve been reading a lot about this in the past couple of years around leaving social media, is really, um, geared towards individuals, especially younger individuals who have grown up in social media, um, not towards people in their thirties, forties, fifties who are running businesses and feel like I have an obligation to my audience and if I don’t post in these places, if I don’t connect with them in these places where they expect me to be, then I will, you know, and obviously our, our brains go to the darkest place and we’re like, I’m gonna go bankrupt.
I’m gonna lose all my clients. Um, and that’s a real fear. Like fully acknowledge that that’s a real fear to , you know, maybe bring to your therapist. Um, but also I think a lot of this can come back to looking at those analytics, looking at those metrics. Um, the story I told about, you know, six years ago when I had to walk away from social media for my own personal reasons, and then I went and looked at the numbers and went, oh, hey, I’m actually mo still getting clients and they’re coming from personal referrals, they’re coming from people who are talking about me. I don’t need to be on social media to maintain those relationships. Mm-hmm. , maybe it’s easier to have those relationships in social media. Maybe it’s easier to stay a top of mind with those collaborators if I’m there, but maybe I need to do a better job with my email marketing.
Maybe I need to do a better job with my content so that way they stay up to date with that. You know, if they’re on my email, if maybe I need to develop a list of referral partners, maybe I need to do more individual outreach. What are the things that I can do instead to maintain my referral engine without feeling like I need to perform in these specific places? What are the ways that I can continue to provide for my audience without performing, without feeling like I have to show up every day? You know, a couple years after that initial walk away from social media, I had a problem with my gallbladder and I was in chronic constant pain until I got it taken out. Like, I couldn’t have showed up and done an Instagram live that day. And that’s what I would’ve had to force myself to do while I was, you know, on painkillers.
And it’s the, the things that we are expected, the ways that we are expected to perform and to show up, like everything in our lives is perfect. It’s, it’s predatory, it’s difficult and you should be able, like what’s the point of starting your own business if you can’t allow the business to run without you a little bit, if it can’t take care of you a little bit, like maybe your website can be the safety net to help you continue to bring in leads or your, your referral network. Your collaborative partners can continue to help you without you needing to show up every day, 10 times a day post on Twitter. Do the stories be be all everywhere, all at once, create new content all the time? Like maybe it doesn’t need to be part of your daily routine. Maybe it’s weekly, right? What are some boundaries you can set? Maybe I, I don’t look at my dms on the weekends. I I shut it off at night. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing, but what are some ways that you can build relationships online without needing to always be showing up at 100% without needing to always be in performance mode?
Mm, absolutely. Something that I shared a little bit recently on the podcast, I think it was actually back, um, back in February, um, was that I’ve been investing more in people led marketing and relationship marketing versus, um, you know, showing up on social media. And like you, I looked at my numbers and I noticed that, um, you know, social media wasn’t generating a huge amount of inquiries for me, but my former clients were, my industry friends were relationships were that word of mouth referral. And that was so powerful because I realized that I could take the time, the energy that I was spending, creating content to show up and perform on social media, or I could take that and pour it into like living, breathing humans. And that just felt more exciting to me, that made my heart feel like warm and fuzzy and I loved that.
And I think that having these options, you know, I think that it can be easy to feel like, because these are the ways that e it looks like every online business is marketing. We also have to do these things. But knowing that you can scale back your involvement on certain platforms, if it feels right for you, if it aligns with the data for you, and then you can invest more time and energy in areas where it does serve you better and it does align with how you wanna be showing up, um, that can feel like, wow, actually you do all of a sudden have these options, like we’re opening up more possibility, um, versus buying into this, this narrative that it needs to look like, you know, this very specific narrow version of, you know, running an online business and marketing in this online space, um, when the ca the, the truth is there’s a lot of opportunity and there’s a lot of possibility out there.
I completely agree. I think also you said like, it feels like that’s the way that it has to happen. And you look around social media and you see people who are very successful and they are on social media, therefore, like ergo that is the behavior that got them to that success. Um, but I can tell you from having done a year’s worth of podcast interviews with people who are not getting all of their leads from social media, many of whom are either not on social at all or very minimally on it, that the reason that you don’t hear about the people who aren’t getting on social media is because they aren’t on social media , right? They’re not on there talking about how they left. They’re not on there pointing out how successful they are. They are just the secret weapon in the back pocket of their referral partners.
Many of them are very comfortable with very good profit margins and don’t feel the need to go on social media and show their income reports and have the Facebook ads that tell you, I made six figures in 20 minutes. You know, like, right. It’s not required, but the, the small minority who are using these tactics are the loudest. And so they have lulled us into this feeling that that is what it takes to be successful. And we don’t necessarily have a modeled possibility of what it could look like to not be going down that, that era that, you know, avenue and the largest, loudest voices in the space are really good at this. That’s how they got to be loudest. That doesn’t mean they’re the most profitable, it doesn’t mean they’re the most successful. It doesn’t mean they’re the happiest, it means they’re the loudest, um, . So I don’t want you to correlate having a giant audience with having a giant bank account. It’s not always the same thing. Or, you know, a a really happy marriage is not correlated to the number of likes that you got on your Instagram posts this week. Like there are a lot of different metrics and performance indicators that we can use that, but your marketing metrics and your business metrics should not be the only things that you should be considering when it comes to your personal satisfaction.
Exactly. Um, you know, I think that it’s important for us to think about the longevity of these businesses that we’re building and yeah, if we want to be constantly creating content so that we can be on all these different platforms and, you know, we want to kind of like go big and then subsequently have to go home because we’ve burnt out and we have like just completely gone too hard, too fast, yeah, you can do that. And if that sounds fun for you for a period of time, then like, yeah, go for it. But when I think about my business, and I’ve been doing this for 11 years and there’s a certain amount of like longevity that I’ve had to think about with the actions that I take and the way that I show up. And when I look at my client’s businesses, again, we’re looking at longevity.
How are we building brands for you that will endure, that will last and will not only generate revenue for you year after year, but will inspire connection with your ideal clients year after year. And when we kind of are using that forward thinking, we begin to recognize how precious the commodities that we have access to, like our time, our energy, our health, um, we look at these things and we take them into consideration. And so I know for me personally, that I would rather experiment with showing up more for my email list, showing up more for my podcast, showing up more for, um, my internal referral program, like showing up more for these, these, you know, people in spaces that maybe aren’t as glamorous as, you know, the really cool social platforms that everyone’s spending a lot of time on. But I would rather be showing up in these places because it’s better aligning with, um, how I can preserve my business’ growth and momentum for the long run.
And, you know, what works for me might not work for those who are tuning in. And that’s the beauty of kind of using that, that kind of internal ability to sort of look at something that’s presented to you and decide, does this work for me? Do I want to try this? Or maybe is this something that I’m gonna leave for now and I’m gonna try something else instead. And Meg, I really just love how you’ve kind of created this, this model based on your own experience sharing what you’ve gone through and how you’ve come to this conclusion of scaling back on your social media presence, but then really going in harder with other aspects of lead generation. And I’m sure that also knowing that you are an SEO expert, your SEO is out there working hard for you too.
Oh, totally. Yeah. And I’m not the only one either, you know, many of my clients, I think increasingly even before I started the podcast and started speaking out about the fact that this is not like a dichotomy, but like it is a, a choice among many, um, this isn’t like yes as or yes social media or no social media. Like it doesn’t have to be that cut and dry. You can be, uh, ha have lots of different inputs into your business. But even before I started really going hard on that train, I’ve had people coming to me for most of my business, I’d say at least the last five years, and saying like, I see SEO as one of the ways to get off social media and to spend less time on my marketing and to create something once and have it be found for the long term.
And so that’s something that I’ve seen many of my clients have great success with. You know, sometimes they’ll write a blog post in our first month working together five years ago and they’re still getting found for it tomorrow. You know, this is something where we have these assets that are g gaining in value to us over time, appreciating versus depreciating assets in our businesses that can be repurposed. And it doesn’t have to be blog posts. It, it can be a podcast, it can be a video, it can be a lead magnet. You know, there are so many things that we can create that have a significantly longer shelf life than what we’re doing on social. And so if you still wanna remain on social, I would say think about starting from a more sustainable, long-term type of, uh, format for your media and then push that down into your social, you know, have a quote from a podcast episode that you recorded and turn it into a video that you can then put onto your social media instead of creating for social media and having it disappear right away.
It’s still gonna disappear right away either way, but at least now you have the more sustainable option for it. And Bonnie, I loved what you also said about like having different sort of tiers of intimacy within your marketing where, you know, you were saying the, I I was sort of envisioning in my mind, uh, like a target where at the center of the target, the bullseye, you have these referral partnerships and these collaborators and you wanna have those internal referrals coming in from your previous clients, from your design partners, from potential marketing collaborators. And then like maybe a step out from that up, like out from the bullseye might be your email marketing strategy, and then beyond that it might be your podcast listeners. And then the, the broadest version of that would be social media where people can still keep in touch with you, but they don’t feel as close to you.
They don’t have that intimate relationship, that one-on-one engagement that you have with your previous clients where you know them and they know you and you have that, you know, long-term, thoughtful personal touch that goes along with them. You can’t do that when you have a hundred or a thousand or a million followers. You just can’t connect that deeply. So it’s okay to still have these tiers of intimacy, but like recognize them for what they are and invest, I mean, do what you want. I, I’m not telling you what to do, but I would recommend investing in the people that, that have the deepest relationships that can potentially, you know, have the long term benefits versus the, just the numbers of, I I, for vanity purposes want to say that I have, you know, a hundred thousand followers,
Right? Right. And, um, the beauty of, at least in my experience, what I’ve really appreciated about having just kind of a, a handful of people in that sort of inner circle, those, you know, internal referral partners, you know, it’s, it’s a mix of past clients, industry, friends, you know, people that I have an actual connection with and that we have said that we wanna support each other. Yes. And what I love about it is that it’s mutually beneficial. It’s designed to, you know, if they come across someone who could use my support and my services and it feels natural and it feels good, they can send them my way. Um, and likewise, if I come across someone who could use their help, their work, their services, I can send them that direction. And so what I love about that is not only that kind of level of reciprocity, um, but also that level of, um, I don’t know, in my brain it kind of feels like I have this little like, like relationship Rolodex where I’m like, Ooh, I am talking to this person and they need help with seo and I know that Meg is great at that and she has her whole agency I’m gonna introduce this person with to Meg so that they can connect and they can, you know, like it’s just kind of, I get so excited about it because it’s this opportunity to connect people and it’s a way to make this whole thing, you know, what we’re doing in this online business space, we’re all trying to do something similar, right?
We want to have businesses that are having an impact on our clients and customers that are making us good money so that we can survive in this crazy economy and we can make it. And I believe that like we, we all can kind of relate to that, that struggle in some cases that we’re all kind of experiencing. So if man, if I know someone that can help this person with, you know, their, their business journey and make it a little easier, a little more, a little, you know, more full of fun or a little bit more clear, a little bit more profitable, why would I not do that? Why would I not share that information? And for me, I know that there are ways to do that using social media, but for me it’s a little easier to do it relationally on a smaller scale than it is to do on, you know, a massive, you know, to the masses kind of scale.
Oh, absolutely. And it’s, it’s kind of funny that you brought it back to, um, you know, who are the people that can be in this relationship with you? Because back when I started the business and then was the freelance web designer and then realized that I could do more search engine optimization, the reason that I made that shift was because I was in a peer led mastermind of designers, um, and we had hot seat calls and I said to these other designers who were trying to do the exact same thing as me, you know, hey all, like, how do I balance figuring out the design and keeping up with the trends and learning the word press plugins and doing all of the design things and also get really good at the search engine optimization thing? And everyone in the mastermind just looked at me and said, well, if you figure it out, let us know because we’re always looking for people who can do SEO and we’d rather just outsource it.
And I was like, well, cool. Cause I would rather do the SEO than the design. And that conversation gave me a year of work. Mm. Because I just started to develop these collaborative relationships among other designers where they would do the design work, which was, I, I’ve really enjoyed doing it, but it wasn’t something that I felt as passionate or as good about as the research and the strategy and the planning of how to help them. And they, so we would build in these collaborative partnerships, and that was probably 6, 5, 6 years ago. I dunno if I needed to ever be on social media or ever start the podcast or ever do, and like I could, I could have, just like looking back on it now, you know, hindsight’s 2020, I could have just built out my network of designers and copywriters, and I think I could have had a very successful, quiet, less stressful business if I had just introduced myself to the right people and maintained those relationships.
I don’t think I needed to do a lot of the other garbage that I did around like build the Facebook group and be, you know, like, yeah. But there was a a, an ego question for me of, well, if nobody knows I’m doing anything even worth it to do, you know, how will they know I’m successful? There? There was a a really, um, you know, looking back on it and being able to have some distance from it, um, and even now, like being on this podcast with you, having this conversation, there’s some ego involved in that where I want people to know, oh, that’s that man girl, right? Like, how much of what we’re doing in our business is actually driving us to be more successful? And how much of it is wanting to be visible, wanting to be seen, wanting to be heard, wanting to be acknowledged, wanting to have our work seen and appreciated in the world. And that’s a huge part of what social media does for us. It externally validates the work that we’re doing and gives us that instantaneous feedback from other people who tap it, who hard it, who like it, who, you know, whatever their, their reaction is. And it makes us feel valued, even if it doesn’t contribute to our actual revenue, there is something important about the external validation, you know?
Yeah. Wow. That could be a whole separate podcast interview here. Cause Yeah, that is, that’s so true. It’s, it’s, and I, you know, again, that kind of takes us back to the way that social media algorithms are designed to keep you engaging, to keep you coming back. And if it’s not kind of stroking the ego in some way, if it’s not making you feel a certain way, would you keep opening that up back up and, you know, spending hours of your life just scrolling and engaging there? I mean, maybe you would, but I, I probably wouldn’t. You know, there
Is absolutely, like, you want to be seen doing what you do that’s part of human nature. So part of the, the process of figuring out how to do your marketing is to say like, what value do I get out of this? Because there is value in being acknowledged and being recognized, but where are some other places that you can do that if you choose to sort of become less dependent on these particular channels?
Hmm, that’s a really good point. Um, I have, uh, just kind of, there’s this, this conversation that I keep having over and over again with newer designers, especially inside, um, my, I have a private Facebook group for fellow graphic brand and web designers, and even just connecting with designers through the podcast or, um, you know, through my more limited, um, you know, engagement on social media. I keep hearing that newer designers are, there’s kind of, right, there’s that expectation that if you’re gonna start a business in this day and age, you’re going to follow these steps. And one of those steps is you are gonna use social media to generate client inquiries. And when you’re brand new, there’s all this pressure to do it, right? There’s all this pressure to follow in the footsteps of the people that have gone before you. And I keep hearing kind of, there’s this like, this struggle with some new designers who come to me and say, I really don’t wanna be on social media. I really don’t wanna have to create content for this. Um, but I don’t believe that I can grow my business without it. And that’s why I just absolutely love that you highlighted that concept of relationships, that that concept of, you know, the, the peer led mastermind that you were in, people that were in similar seasons of business to you, and they ended up generating all that interest and all of that revenue and all of those projects, and you didn’t have to show up on TikTok to get that. That was just, and
It’s still, they’re still sending me leads. I am still sending them leads. We are still in this sort of reciprocity Rolodex, uh, ecosystem, right? Like all of what we’re doing is an ecosystem and the ways that you want to engage with it is your choice, but it, you can still have those relationships and, and again, this is the more sustainable choice to your marketing. Can you build a relationship with somebody that can continue to bring you, like I have people who have probably brought me two or three leads a year for the last five years, um, which is not, you know, something to brag about on social media, be like, look, I got three leads, right? But if you have enough of those referral partners, and if you can continue to maintain these re reciprocal relationships that are mutually beneficial, then like that can last a whole lot longer and make you feel good and have that good will that it doesn’t need to be publicly acknowledged that like, oh, maku brought me this lead. It can just be like, we are helping each other because we are both humans.
Absolutely. And that’s really what it’s all about. That, you know, at, at the end of the day, like we’re, we’re people working with people and how we connect with those people and how we find those people can take all sorts of shapes and forms, but if social media is a form that’s not working for you anymore, there are other ways , um, wow. Meg, I could honestly sit here and just talk with you about this all day, but, um, one question that I like to ask during every episode is, is there a final piece of advice or encouragement that you would wanna share to those who are tuning in today when it comes to reframing the relationship with social media as a lead generation tool?
I would say to, to look at all of your marketing strategies, not just social, but really thinking through, you know, I have a, a scorecard I can share with you, Bonnie, that you can kind of put into the notes. It’s just a, a Google doc. Um, but it is really looking at all of your social media or all of your marketing rather as, uh, through these criteria, through these lines. It’s like, what, what do I like to do? What works really well for my clients or potential clients and what makes me feel good? Because there might be some, you know, marketing strategies out there that hit two of the three where you’re like, wow, email marketing’s really effective and people open their emails, but I hate writing emails. Okay, let’s think about how we can make that work better for you, right? Like trying to figure out some sort of central point of that Venn diagram where you feel like your energy and your time and your health and your, all of your resources are leveling up versus being depleted.
It is possible, but it has to be an intentional choice based on the business that you’re running, the values that you have in your brand and like your personal needs. If you have unlimited time, then great spend it on marketing and that’s great. But you know, a lot of us, no one, no one has unlimited time. Time is a finite resource, right? Energy is a finite resource, money is a finite resource. So what are the ways that you can best utilize those resources to get a good return without burning yourself out? Um, so those are the three CRI criteria is what’s most effective, what works for, where are my people and how do they want to communicate with me and what feels good?
I love that as a rubric for making those decisions. And I’ve
Got a spreadsheet for everything, right?
. Oh, I love that so much. And, um, if you, if you share that with us, I’ll absolutely make sure that it’s in the show notes. Speaking of which, there’s also this incredible resource that you were so generously sharing with us, and it’s your SEO starter kit. So it’s for people who want to start to take those steps to diversify lead generation away from social media, right?
Yes. Um, it’s not specifically about social media, it’s really more about how do you make sure that your website has the information that it needs in order to start to draw in people who are looking for what it is that you are providing to them, and really understanding how to structure that information so that Google understands it. Um, because it, you know, there are a lot of people who come to me at some point and say, well, I tried blogging and it didn’t work. And I’m like, well, did you blog about things that your people care about? Or did you blog about like what you ate for breakfast that morning, ? Or you know, were you using the terms that your customers use or were you speaking like an expert that they don’t have the knowledge to be able to find that information? Um, so a lot of the starter kit is really just helping you to rethink the way that you are communicating, uh, specifically on your website, but it does also apply to some of the other channels that we’ve talked about here where we’re trying to acknowledge that not everyone knows what we know and we wanna make it as clear as possible for that information to be relayed in a way that is providing value to your clients.
That sounds like such a fantastic resource, and we’re definitely gonna have that linked in the show notes for today’s episode. So for those who are tuning in, you can go to brand strategy podcast.com, click on the latest episode link, and you’re gonna find this episode and all of Meg’s information and the link to the SEO starter kit waiting for you there. And speaking of other places where folks can find you online, Meg, where can people connect with you on the interwebs? Well,
Not social media . No, that’s not true. We still have an Instagram account. We just, like, I don’t look at the dms, I’m terrible. Like, don’t expect to hear from me there. Um, I would say that the two places where we are hanging out the most right now are our website, which isLove@firstsearch.com. Um, and since I know I’m talking to podcasters, if you wanna sort of dig into more of this conversation around decreasing your dependence on social media, head over to whatever your podcast player of choice is, and you can find us at the social slowdown podcast. Um, again, it’s not about, you know, going cold Turkey or demonizing social media, but just slowing down the ways that we are interacting with it.
Mm, absolutely. Meg, thank you so much for joining me today for having this conversation and for sharing so much of your own experience around reframing your relationship with social media and, um, specifically using it as a lead generation tool for your business. Uh,
It was my pleasure and I really appreciated it. And thank you so much for having me, Bonnie.
Absolutely. And thank you to those who’ve been tuning in today. I hope that today’s conversation with Meg has given you a lot to think about, and I hope that it’s kind of painted this picture of what’s possible if you do choose to start to slowly make some changes to the way that you show up with social media as a business owner or just as a human. And as always, I appreciate you being a part of this community
And I’m cheering you on from Waco.
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